Two years after ban, Libertyville to revisit recreational marijuana sales
Two years after prohibiting the sale of recreational marijuana in town, Libertyville officials are revisiting the idea in light of potential future budget needs.
Recreational cannabis as an alternative revenue source is the sole topic of discussion Tuesday, when the village board meets as a committee of the whole. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave.
Since the ban was enacted in 2019, the makeup of the village board has changed, with four new members joining the panel earlier this year. Should the board now want to reconsider, a public hearing would be needed, according to Village Administrator Kelly Amidei.
The idea is worth another look as data is now available that wasn't when the ban was enacted, said Mayor Donna Johnson.
"Other communities are revisiting this topic as an alternative revenue (source) and so should we," Johnson said. "Many communities are taking a second look now that more information is available."
Revenues in the village's general fund, which covers day-to-day expenses, are stable, but projected to drop in coming years. Village estimates show a single recreational marijuana establishment could generate $250,000 to $350,000 in new revenue annually.
"It is early in the process, but the most important note is that we need additional sources of revenue, as the car industry is changing and that is one of our highest sales tax revenue sources," Johnson said.
The production, sale and use of recreational marijuana by those 21 and older was allowed under state law effective Jan. 1, 2020. Municipalities had the authority to impose additional taxes on sales or opt out and ban sales.
Libertyville's plan commission held a public hearing on recreational marijuana sales and did not recommended changes to the village's zoning code to allow it. The village board agreed and in October 2019, voted unanimously to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana.
Trustees at the time cited public sentiment against the idea and said the promise of additional revenue wouldn't outweigh potential pitfalls, such as risks to children and how it would reflect on the town's image.
"The only reason I can find for approving recreational marijuana is the tax revenue it would generate, and that number is very elusive," former Mayor Terry Weppler said at the time.
While the sale of recreational marijuana isn't allowed, trustees in August imposed a 3% tax on gross receipts should that change. Amidei said state cannabis licenses were delayed because of the pandemic and it's not known how many will be issued in the future.